Dear MSN

We’ve experienced a streak of electronic bad luck recently. Unauthorized charges began appearing on my credit card, so I had to cancel it and replace it. I planned to be home to meet the Fedex truck on the day the new card would arrive, but out in my woodshop I didn’t hear the truck arrive. That meant I had to chase on down to the Skagit to get the packet before their office closed. All worked out, at the expense of some extra wear on the tires and needlessly burned gasoline.

But a day or so later I found myself blocked out of the MSN hotmail account we have been using for years. I tried logging on and my password wouldn’t work.

MSN kindly provided a screen that directs you to an online form to complete to regain access. But the questions include a “security question,” the answer to which my hacker had also changed.

Beyond that, MSN wanted me to provide the subject lines of recent emails I’ve sent (I very rarely ever use subject lines) and addresses of recent emails I sent. Uh…like…I don’t really memorize peoples’ email addresses. I just put their names in the address line and the computer does the rest.

Another vital piece of evidence you must provide is the final four digits of a credit card you used when you set up the account. Since that event took place nearly a decade ago and I’ve long since replaced that credit card I haven’t a clue as to what those final four numbers were.

The icing on the cake is that MSN provides no support for these accounts. There is no live person to talk to over the telephone, although you could enlist the support of strangers who want your money and who promise to fix your problems (if you provide enough personal information).

Long and short of it…my MSN email account has now been abandoned to some hacker. Rather than protecting my account from the hacker, MSN has developed a protocol for supporting the hacker over the less-well-technologically-savvy owner of the account. I’m hoping my friends, relatives and associates will understand the bizarre messages they may begin receiving from that old account. I set up a G-mail account in the meantime.

Since MSN won’t allow me to talk to them, I thought I’d send them a quick note:

Dear MSN,

Your service sucks. I won’t be back.


My wife recently copied off an email, and on the edges of the copy were the names of several of the files we had established over the years. Using these I was able to crack back into the MSN account. There were all those hundreds of emails we had accumulated, stored or sent. Knowing that my credit card had to be cancelled, I thought I’d better update the account with a new card number. But when I tried to do that, MSN required a code, which they sent to what they called our “alternative email.” This alternative email was evidently an account my son set up years ago and then abandoned. When I attempted to log into the account, MSN informed me that such an account doesn’t exist. When I attempted to delete the account from my settings, MSN informed me that the account would be deleted in one month, whereupon my other alternative account would be activated. Since we had already received two emails from MSN pointing out that the credit card number on file didn’t work, I have concluded that our old MSN account would soon die of corporate idiocy. We’ve been paying around twenty-two dollars a month for this account for years and years. Should have gone with a free account in the first place, I guess.


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